November 2007 Archives

Citrus and vanilla infused bourbon

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Despite the two week interval I'm afraid I'm still stuck on a hard liquor theme.  So this week, a delicious bourbon whiskey infusion, plus a cocktail to use it in.  (Actually, the 1794 is usually made with rye whiskey, but not in this household as we don't have any.)

Smcitrusvanillabourbon0008.JPG This ‘recipe’ comes from Scott Beattie, the talented barman at the Cyrus restaurant bar in Healdsburg, California, who is reputed to be the best ‘mixologist’ in America.  After we’d worked our way through most of his cocktail menu, he happily divulged his bourbon-infusing secrets…


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Smcitrusvanillabourbon0005.JPGSo what is whiskey?  And rye and bourbon for that matter? 

A whiskey is a spirit distilled from fermented grain(s) and then aged in barrels. 

They vary from place to place by blend of grains used, number of distillations, types of barrel used, ageing time and temperature, filtration method, ingredients added, and much more... 

The cocktail

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Sm1794s0003.JPGWhy a cocktail is called a cocktail is a question that has a number of different answers, which are each ridiculous, yet strangely plausible in that it would be nice to believe one of them...

Either, a barmaid in New York called Betsy, who thought outside the traditional garnish box, started serving mixed alcoholic drinks adorned with cock’s tail stirrers taken from her feathery bar décor.  Or, savvy tavern keepers would...


california, usa
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This cocktail is in the Manhattan family, but much more elusive.  It seems there are only two places sophisticated enough to serve it in San Francisco, not counting our kitchen - the top notch restaurant Range and the über-cool speakeasy style bar Bourbon & Branch.  For a truly amazing cocktail experience, try it with vanilla and citrus infused bourbon instead of rye.

Sm1794s0003.JPGThis recipe is for Tracy and David, who helped us enjoy a few last weekend at Tim's 21st(ish) birthday party in their super-stylish Eichler house in Orange County.  It is the result of many a long night of intensive research conducted at some of California's most sophisticated bars, just for you.

Manhattan babas

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While living in California the Manhattan has been my most favourite cocktail, and the apartment has been stocked with the necessary ingredients at all times, which I suppose is why my rum babas ended up as Manhattan babas. They did not disappoint.  You could make the more traditional version instead, or dream up another.  I think an Old Fashioned Baba would be delicious too… 

smmanhattanbaba0005.jpgThe baba, by the way, gets its name from the babka, a related Eastern European cake.  Baba means grannie / old woman, and babka means little grannie / old woman, yet the babka is almost always a bigger cake than the baba.  Bizarre but true.  We might have to go to Eastern Europe to get to the bottom of this linguistic culinary puzzle.  I think we'll drive there, after Christmas.


Culinary Anthropologist